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Egypt’s Media Ecology in a Time of Revolution

May 31, 2011

Here's the web page with my new paper on it.

My first formal paper on current events in Egypt, “Egypt’s Media Ecology in a Time of Revolution” has just been published in the latest issue of the on-line journal Arab Media and Society, published by the Al-Adham Center for Journalism Teaching and Research at the American University in Cairo.

Here’s the abstract:

In 1984 William Beeman published a brief but useful essay on the media ecology of Iran before, during and after the revolution. After briefly discussing the relationship between interpersonal gossip (“the grapevine”), and state television and radio, he discusses the dramatic changes in the news media as the revolution progressed, only to settle back into its original role as a voice for the regime—albeit a new regime. The Egyptian uprising had new elements absent in the Iranian revolution, most notably social media and satellite television. Social media does not replace either “the grapevine” of networks of face-to-face interaction nor the monodirectional power of television (which was, in fact, somewhat less unitary than 1970s Iran because of satellite programming). Rather, it offers a way to extend the “grapevine” networks to link otherwise geographically separated individuals into an entirely new public sphere, on the one hand, and to appropriate, supplement, comment on and reframe other media on the other. The revolutionary media ecology of Egypt—in particular the ways various media index, image and influence one another—suggests that (unlike Iran) whatever the ultimate political outcome of the uprisings, the mediascape of Egypt after the revolution will be significantly different than it was before January 25.

You can read the paper on-line or download the entire paper as a .pdf file.

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